Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Perfume discussion


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Can't wait to read this!

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message 1: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan I love, love love love the movie version of this and can't wait to get my hands on the book!


Rhiannon The book is far better than the film. What is captured in words cannot possibly be transferred to the screen. Enjoy!!


message 3: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Awesome, I've always been a "The book is always better than the movie" person myself, so I have high hopes! Glad to see you loved the book!!


Almeta I like this book so much that I own several copies, to lend, so that my copy is never out of my sight and remains in good condition. I recommend it to everyone.

If you have a friend who seems to have a highly sensitive sense of smell, lend it to him/her first. He/she will sooooo relate.


message 5: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Almeta, that's a good idea! Also, I can't say for sure, but I swear I read somewhere that Kurt Cobain used to love this book as well, lol! This on one "to-read" that I simply can't wait to-read :)


message 6: by Almeta (last edited Nov 04, 2011 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Almeta trixieKitten wrote: "Almeta, that's a good idea! Also, I can't say for sure, but I swear I read somewhere that Kurt Cobain used to love this book as well, lol! :)"

It is said that Kurt Cobain had an overactive sense of smell. He did indeed call Perfume one of his favorite books, hence the song "Scentless Apprentice", by Nirvana.

Enjoy the book.


Susan Bright What an ending! Loved the book, but have not seen the movie. I guess I should!


message 8: by Clark (last edited Nov 06, 2011 09:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Clark Carlton I love, love, love this book. My sense of smell was never the same. Such an original premise and fully realized. One aspect -- no spoilers here -- was way over the top, but the rest of the book is so great, so vivid, so engaging. I thought the film version was good and was surprised at how well the director suggested the protagonist's superior sense of smell. This novel is a real achievement of imagination.


message 9: by Almeta (last edited Nov 10, 2011 11:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Almeta A "smelling" friend and I waited in long anticipation for the movie. Then we gave up. It seemed as though it was never going to be realeased. So when it finally was, we jumped up and down for the opportunity to buy tickets.

We could not imagine how the heightened sense of smell could be portrayed on film. I think they did a pretty good job of it. We thought there were a couple of scenes that were pushed too close to comedic, but over all enjoyed the movie.

Still, nothing compares to the book!


message 10: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric The movie is great, the book better. I read it in one night, not being able to put it down.


Geoffrey This book, albeit entertaining, is nothing but a morally bankrupt piece of trash. How dare the author raise the antagonist to the level of a heroic protagonist!


message 12: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan We got paid early today because of tomorrow's holiday.. might have to run out to B&N :)


Clark Carlton I disagree that the portrait of the protagonist is as a hero. He's a villain and we come to understand the reasons for his villainy. Part of the richness of this book is in showing how someone who was a freak of nature, who was gifted, was marginalized and persecuted. He lives in an evil world, one which has mistreated him, and his amorality is a direct result of that.


Geoffrey Oh poor marginalized serial killer. He`s one of the downtrodden.


Clark Carlton Geoffrey, he was more than downtrodden, he was abused. The author has sympathy for him, but not for his crimes. Something bigger is at play in the novel. The protagonist represents the underclass, and an abused and neglected underclass will always spawn criminals. In some ways, the novel has parallels with Wells' Time Machine in which we see a time where society becomes so highly stratified that it is unstable, crime ridden, where the poor have nothing but hatred for those who exploit and ignore them and so they will prey upon them, not just for survival, but out of resentment. Societies with a vast middle class have the lowest crimes rates in the world.


Hayley Stewart I absolutely adored reading this book - mainly for the way the author described the heightened sense of smell. It was also one of the first books I reviewed to.

I am interested to see the film but that's mainly out of curiosity as to how it depicts the scents.


message 17: by Voula (last edited Nov 13, 2011 04:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Voula  (otl1987) The way the author manages to describe scents is like nothing I have ever read. That would be reason enough to read this book. It 's not one of me favorites, but I recognize the fact that it's a unique book and it is one of those that you don't forget. Also, the main character is one you don't find often in books. He is someone you can't relate to, but the author has succeeded on having you interested on knowing him better. Something not many manage to do, at least for me.

As for the movie, well, no movie is better than the book, but it did capture the strange, dark atmosphere that you find on the book too.

Overall, enjoy the book, you definitely have to read it!


Geoffrey Clark
That is knee jerk liberalism at the worst. There are many so called downtrodden who never succumb to his heinous crimes. Fie on you for excusing his perfidy.


Kathy I wish there were like buttons on this discussion page, so many of you have written what I was thinking. I have just finished reading this book and can hardly stop thinking about it.


Clark Carlton Well, I am not excusing his perfidy and neither is the author. He is showing a situation and in no way is celebrating the deaths of the victims or the triumph of the main character in his killings. It is certainly true that criminals come from all classes but poverty breeds lawlessness and violence. The boy in Perfume was rejected, neglected, abused and enslaved. He has never had any kind of education much less basic moral instruction. Most importantly, he has never been loved and had only his world of scent to find satisfaction.

Without spoiling it for those who have not read the book, the climax of the plot expresses the authors' concerns about what happens when societies, especially urban societies, are too stratified and you have a neglected underclass. Without giving too much away, the barriers between the classes collapse in a very colorful way at the end. It was the element of the book that was over the top for me but it was consistent with Suskind's theme.

I have never been able to read books about vampires as I cannot sympathize with blood sucking killers, but I am sure that Ann Rice is not an advocate for vampirism and its attendant murders. She is trying to say something about the self-absorbed nature of addiction as Suskind is saying something about poverty in his book.

I recently read The White Tiger, a fantastic novel, which has similar themes and a main character who lets you know his tale is going to be a dark one. He's not a hero -- he is someone with an interesting and important story to tell. I enjoy books and movies where virtuous heroes and heroines triumph against evil, but I'm also interested in books that explore ideas and complexities as Perfume does.


Hazel Stanton I can't gush about this book enough..yes its dark, the main character is flawed and selfish, but it is beautifully written story that draws you in. The author's talent in describing scents in a way that you could actually smell them lifting off the page is unbelievable


Clark Carlton I heard a fascinating story on NPR about a "personal scent" shop called I Hate Perfume which made me think of this book. The store specializes in perfumes that don't smell like flowers or spices but have scents like In The Library which smells like old books and Roast Beef. If I could choose my own scent, it would be Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies.

http://www.cbihateperfume.com/perfume...


message 23: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan That's an awesome site! Thanks for sharing!
I like Forest/Wild Hunt: "Wild Hunt is the scent of an ancient forest in the heat of a summer afternoon. It is a blend of Torn Leaves, Crushed Twigs, Flowing Sap, Fallen Branches, Old Leaves, Green Moss, Fir, Pine and Tiny Mushrooms."
Wow reminds me of being little & playing in the woods by the creek...


Almeta Clark wrote: "I heard a fascinating story on NPR about a "personal scent" shop called I Hate Perfume which made me think of this book. The store specializes in perfumes that don't smell like flowers or spices b..."

For all of us who mourn the loss of the "real book" while reading eBooks, ya gotta go with In The Library.


Thanks for sharing this site and your thoughts about Perfume.


Clark Carlton trixieKitten wrote: "That's an awesome site! Thanks for sharing!
I like Forest/Wild Hunt: "Wild Hunt is the scent of an ancient forest in the heat of a summer afternoon. It is a blend of Torn Leaves, Crushed Twigs, F..."


That does sound super fragrant! I love the smell of the woods on the East Coast where I grew up -- smelled different after a rainstorm and different after a dry spell when things got powdery. I think people who like this book all have a stronger sense of smell.


message 26: by Melissa (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:18AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Melissa i do think this is a sick character i just dont get why a lot of people ratted it with 5 stars. Is not my type of book! who wants to see a sick killer?


Erla-Mari Diedericks Melissa The character is beyond sick. He is disturbed and rotten. He is a bad smell that you can not get from under your finger nails. But it s the author's use of the language - of a visual form to bring aroma's and smells alive that made me read it again and again and again. The movie was just stupid. the book is a masterpiece.


Erla-Mari Diedericks Clark wrote: "I heard a fascinating story on NPR about a "personal scent" shop called I Hate Perfume which made me think of this book. The store specializes in perfumes that don't smell like flowers or spices b..."

Another fascinating exercise was done as part of the Vagina Monologues where women told the playwright what their vaginas smelt like: peppermint crisp is the one that stayed with me.


Geoffrey I think people who like this book all have a stronger sense of smell. Clark


Actually I read the book as a course requirement at Northeastern University in Boston with 20 odd other continuing education adults. The teacher was a particularly good one, in fact, better than any I had at UCONN, my principal alma mater. As a superior teacher he had the creative notion to bring a box of scents to class and administered a spot ungraded quiz as to how many of the fragrances each of us could identify. I scored highest. And yes, I received a high A in the course as well. And yes, I hated the book, finding it morally challenged in a major way. And yes, I was impressed as to the writing. But the author needed to take a course in Ethics or work through life issues. His was a very warped view of life which I found detestable.


Clark Carlton It would be interesting to know what the author is like and how he lives his life and what his views and philosophies are. From the one other book of his that I know of and the few things I have read about him, he is likely to be a recluse.


Erla-Mari Diedericks As a writer I can tell you that it is possible to create characters or a story that is completely out of line with your own moral values. that is what horror and crime writers do. However, if you look closely at Perfume and also at crime novels etc. you will often find that it is in fact commentary on society. Perfume does not condone murder. Or mental illness. It comments on it by showing us evil from the view of the murderer himself - a view from the dark side. On a personal note - I can not write horror or crime. It depresses me.


Michelle I didn't and won't watch the movie. The images I have from the book are scary and disgusting enough. I did love the book though. I chose it for our bookclub a couple of years ago. No one liked it at all! As a matter of fact whenever someone doesn't like a book they say 'well it wasn't as bad as Perfume'. Anyone who can keep a character consistently evil nary a nice thing about him, even in perfume making he's evil, is a good writer. Strange but I don't consider this a horror book although the character is horrible.


Mandy I read the book, then watched the movie which was always going to struggle - due to the smells issue.
I don't think a character has to nice or moral to ensure the book is good one(Hannibal Lector wasn't nice either). The author did an excellent job in provoking pity for the the small orphan who had, frankly, a bad start in life. As the boy grows into a man the pity turns into horror,abhorence for his actions and behaviours. I think the author achieved what he set out to do.


message 34: by Jukka (new) - added it

Jukka You might want to check out other books by Süskind.

I can recommend both The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story, both quite different from Perfume, and a lot lighter, but you'll see common threads.

If you're really interested also take a look at On Love and Death where you might get a larger understanding of Süskind's ideas (an erotic connection of love and death) that is imo central to Perfume.


Almeta Jukka wrote: "You might want to check out other books by Süskind.

I can recommend both The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story, both quite different from Perfume, and a lot lighter, but you'll see common threads.
..."


I read The Pigeon and wasn't thrilled. Haven't tried The Story of Mr. Sommer.

On Love and Death I will try.

Thanks for the recommendation.


Licha The scratch and sniff book. Author did a great job of describing scents. Compelling character even if he was a murderer. By the way, people are so appalled at Grenouille, but the father of the red-headed girl was more amoral, even if he never went through with his desires.

I also found the scenes on the making of perfumes very interesting.


Geoffrey I am not a fan of the book. The orgy scene at the end and Susskind`s raising the anti´-heroes status to a Messianic level speaks much of his lack of moral compass.


Licha Geoffrey wrote: "I am not a fan of the book. The orgy scene at the end and Susskind`s raising the anti´-heroes status to a Messianic level speaks much of his lack of moral compass."

I agree with you Geoffrey about the ending. It was terrible. Seemed like the author was trying to end this on a grand scale but it just didn't hold up with the rest of the story.


Soraia I think the end was very good, he was so full of regret that he wanted to die, and what better way to die than that in the hands of the one thing that he was so blind to get?
After getting it he realized that having it couldn't give him what he really wanted, bring back the first girl, the one he fell in love with.
I really liked this book, it was one of the 1st books I've read, I even made a presentation at school about it! This book will always have a special place in my heart!


message 40: by Vera (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vera I saw the film first and just love it. It's a little bit disturbing but at the same time fascinating. Latter when I read the book I really liked it too, but in my opinion it's more disturbing than the film, but very interesting too.


message 41: by Vera (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vera Some people are talking about "The story of Mr. Sommer" and i read that one too, but it´s not one of my favourite books. I describe this as strange...


Almeta Vera wrote: "Some people are talking about "The story of Mr. Sommer" and i read that one too, but it´s not one of my favourite books. I describe this as strange..."

I was sooo in love with Perfume, that I immediately read The Pigeon, but wasn't impressed. Didn't know about The Story of Mr. Sommer. I will give it a try.


Christina you either love this book or hate it
i loved it!!


Marsha The movie did a great deal towards getting the book's contents on to the screen. It's one of the rare cases wherein the screen version didn't disappoint me!


Sparrowlicious Christina wrote: "you either love this book or hate it
i loved it!!"


Well. No.
I think it was an alright book. It's not the best book I ever read but it's not the worst.
At some point the story gets really slow, then it's all "oh, Jean-Baptiste, you're so clever!" and of course: ugh, creepy!
The book has such a sudden end that I had the feeling the author didn't give it much thought, as if the story was going on forever and ever for him. I know that feeling since I had this with a story I finished recently: suddenly the sub plot acts up and demands to be written. In Süskind's case he kind of takes the main character's motivation from him and instead of developing him further he kills him off, end of story.

Well, an alright book, like I said. I don't know much from the movie adaption anymore. I only wants read that they tried to shift the focus of the main character's motivation but that's kind of silly.


Marius Pontmercy Almost a year has passed since the original message in this discussion:

"I love, love love love the movie version of this and can't wait to get my hands on the book! "

So, Megan (trixieKitten), have you read it and what were your thoughts?


Fatin I read the book, and then watched the movie. Surprisingly it lived up to my expectations! I'm not squeamish at all, huge horror fan, but that birthing scene right at the start had me regretting having food at the same time!
I did feel love for Grenouille, I felt bad for him, I forgave him. I don't know why. I think it's because I saw him as more than human. Part of something bigger.


Tina2times Eichinger/Tykwer did a good job on the movie. Of course, not comparable to the book, but ... good.


Jennifer Soraia wrote: "I think the end was very good, he was so full of regret that he wanted to die, and what better way to die than that in the hands of the one thing that he was so blind to get?
After getting it he r..."


Interesting that you took that particular sentiment away with you from the book. Considering he was a complete sociopath with intense narcissism (and the narrator's constant reminding that he has zero feelings for anyone or anything), your observation is indeed surprising to read. I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't ventured to read this book, but the narrator and Jean-Baptiste's own actions, thoughts, logic, and life repeatedly affirmed his lack of empathy, sympathy, understanding or wish to grasp any emotion other than his own selfish drive to possess scents, all the scents - and use them to his own will - regardless of the consequences or cost. Even his actions in the end were driven purely by selfishness.


Elise This book is absolutely amazing, impossible to put down!!! Also very interesting, with the details about perfume making etc haha loved it. A purely joyful reading experience :)


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